Canadian Muslim sparks niqab debate
Zunera Ishaq, a ‘devout’ Muslim living in Toronto who advocates stricter gender apartheid in Pakistan, was scheduled to take a Canadian citizen’s oath in January, but chose not to attend the ceremony because she would have had to remove her face covering.
Instead, the mother of three launched a legal challenge to allow her to keep her face covered during the ceremony – and won.
According to this report, in a ruling last month federal Judge Keith Boswell said the ban violated the government’s regulations because:
It interferes with a citizenship judge’s duty to allow candidates for citizenship the greatest possible freedom in the religious solemnization or the solemn affirmation of the oath.
The government then appealed against the judgment and asked for a stay of Judge Boswell’s order.
The majority of Canadians seem to be siding with the Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the issue of wearing a niqab during citizenship ceremonies, with 64 percent agreeing that:
It’s appropriate to have rules for what people wear in citizenship ceremonies.
I believe, and I think most Canadians believe that it is it is offensive that someone would hide their identity at the very moment where they are committing to join the Canadian family.
A new poll shows that, even though most Canadians feel uncomfortable around women wearing the niqab, nearly two thirds believe that whether a woman wears a niqab is none of their business as it is a matter of personal choice.
While 51 percent “feel uncomfortable around women wearing” a niqab and “prefer if women in Canada did not wear the niqab in public places”, 64 percent agreed that “regardless of whether I like the niqab, it’s not really my place to say what others should or shouldn’t wear”, with 55 percent agreeing that:
It should be a matter of personal choice in Canada if a woman wishes to wear one.
The hijab does not cause as much concern among Canadians as the niqab, with only 22 percent feeling uncomfortable around a women wearing one and 33 percent preferring women in Canada to not wear one in public.
The Majority of Canadians also agree that Muslim women who wear the hijab (71 percent) or niqab (58 percent) “do so as a matter of their own personal choice”.
While 62 percent agree that the “the Muslim faith is in some ways ‘anti-women'”, nearly the same proportion (61 percent) also believe that:
Many religions could be described as somewhat ‘anti women’.
Even though the majority of the Canadians agree with Harper’s view, most Canadians seem to disagree with the Prime Minister making such comments, with 60 percent feeling that
Political leaders should generally avoid making comment on religious customs.
Last year Ishaq told a government lawyer, Negar Hashemi, that she was in favour of gender separation “in some circumstances” in her native Pakistan.
But in an interview this week, she said she does not advocate such segregation in Canada.
I’m not seeking any such separation. I do respect Canadian society as it is.
Negar Hashemi Ishaq why she preferred to live in Canada, rather than Pakistan:
A country with Islamic laws that includes your religious views.
The woman replied she considered Pakistan a Muslim country, but not an Islamic one, because it was:
Not obeying the laws in, like, whatever Islam has told us to do.
Males and females, for instance, are not educated in separate classrooms, she said.
They are not following this rule back home … it’s been co-education.
She added there are “a lot of … fields” in the workplace where there could be a separation of genders, “but there is no separation”.
Asked by Hashemi whether she would like to see men and women separated during Canada’s citizenship ceremonies, Ishaq said such a move would “definitely give me something more than I asked”, and that this was something she would appreciate. But her main objective was to be allowed to keep her face covered while saying the oath.